Harry smiled as he unlocked the door with a tap of his wand against the lock. He had a box of Draco’s favorite chocolates from overseas in his hand, and he had a magnificent dinner planned for tonight. Draco sometimes said that Harry didn’t spend enough time planning their anniversaries, since he was so caught up in his work. This time, Harry had—
He stepped into the entrance hall and turned his head to the left as a breathy moan caught his attention. Maybe Draco was also getting ready for tonight?
But he wasn’t. Instead, he was kneeling in front of a tall witch with long blonde hair that sprayed around her head, and his face was between her legs. The witch was clutching at the wall with tight fingernails, moaning.
Harry stood almost still.
The witch’s eyes opened when his wand fell to the floor, and she turned her head and said in a voice that wasn’t that far-off a moan, “Draco, we have a visitor.”
Draco responded with a sideways motion of his head, and the witch cried out and came. Harry just stared. There was nothing in the middle of his head but a great, white, vast, buzzing shock.
Draco stood up and licked his lips, which were wet. Then he nodded to Harry and said, “Wait in the kitchen. We have some things to talk about,” before leaning in and kissing the witch with so much passion that the shock in Harry’s head broke into pain. He couldn’t remember the last time Draco had kissed him that way.
Over Draco’s shoulder, the witch rolled her eyes at Harry and pointed towards the kitchen. Harry picked up his wand, turned, and walked in that direction. He put down the box of chocolates on the table in front of him, and stared at it while the messy sounds continued from behind him.
“You must have realized that our relationship lost the passion and spark that should have driven it a long time ago, Harry.”
“No,” Harry whispered. He knew it was weak, but he couldn’t look up at Draco, whose lips were still glistening with the witch’s juices. “It always felt passionate to me.”
Draco sighed and sat down across from him. Harry ended up glancing at him and then away. Draco’s lips did still glisten, his hair still did stand upright from the motion of the witch’s hands through it, but he still looked so beautiful that Harry knew his heart would forgive Draco everything.
“It stopped feeling passionate to me years ago.”
“Then why stay with me?” Harry asked, a little hoarsely, and managed to focus on that. He still couldn’t feel anger, but his pain could ask the question. “Why not break up with me and tell me that you wanted to start seeing someone else?”
“What would have happened to you?”
“I wouldn’t have walked in the door and found you with your face in someone else’s cunt!”
Harry’s voice soared, but Draco didn’t move. He simply sat there, giving Harry that mild, disappointed stare that he also used when Harry didn’t pick up the right cutlery immediately at a fancy dinner. Abruptly, Harry thought of how he must look through Draco’s eyes: childish, profane, obscene. He flushed and dropped back into his chair.
“You don’t know how to love,” Draco said, linking his fingers together. “I don’t know whether it has to do with your unfortunate childhood, or because you had a Horcrux in you for so long, or simply because you never found someone you could forge a strong connection with. But if I’d abandoned you like that, how would you ever learn better? At that point, I still thought I could help you experience it for yourself.” He leaned forwards, earnest. “I stayed with you to heal you, Harry.”
Harry felt his mouth working, but nothing would come out. Then he said, “I can love! I love you!”
“I’m sorry, Harry, since it probably does feel like that to you.” Draco’s voice was soft and his eyes merciless. “But it’s only infatuation. Obsession. Not really love.”
Harry stood up, trembling. Draco watched him, and Harry felt as childish as he had when he blurted out the word “cunt.” He sat back down and stared at his wand lying on the table before him. “But how do you know what I feel?” he whispered.
Draco sighed. “When I’m with Astoria, I’m overcome. Swept away. I would do anything for her, give her anything she wanted, die to save her. You—Harry, you value spending time with your friends more than me. You won’t get me most of the things I want, and you’ve even argued about why it would be wrong for you to acquire some of them. You smile at me when we make love, and then you roll over and go to sleep half the time.”
Harry’s tongue tangled up behind his teeth. He wanted to say something to oppose it, but everything Draco said was true.
“I didn’t want to admit that my experiment had failed and you were never going to learn to really love me.” Draco sat back and examined him. “The same way I don’t think you wanted to admit that you didn’t love me. But all of that is true, and it’s time we stopped deluding ourselves. I need to move on with Astoria, and you need a good Mind-Healer. It’s possible someone trained could succeed where I failed.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“Harry, don’t make me answer that. It would only hurt you.”
“Three years. Since the time I realized that I would never be able to teach you passion no matter how hard I tried.”
Harry shook his head. His mouth was full of saliva, and bitterness. He cast a spell that would remove the spit from his mouth, but the bitterness remained. “You should have told me,” he whispered. “I would have let you go.”
Draco raised his eyebrows a little. “Would you? A scene like this would have happened, only more distasteful. You know I hate scenes, Harry. You would have tried to convince me to stay. I didn’t have the courage or the sense, then, to tell you the truth. Now I have both.”
He reached out a hand, and Astoria stepped into the kitchen as if summoned, braiding her fingers with Draco’s and smiling at him. Draco gave her the kind of melting expression that Harry had never seen directed at him.
Harry’s heart began to hammer, fiercer and faster, faster and fiercer. It’s true. He really does love her. He doesn’t love me. Oh, God.
He would have bolted if he could. But Draco looked back at him and began speaking, and Harry had never been able to do that when there was a chance that—Draco might say something positive.
“I wish you weren’t broken, Harry. Then maybe we could have stayed together, and all of us would have learned what real love was.”
Harry stared at him, and managed to find a few shards of hovering, broken glass in his throat that he could push out. “It was wrong of you.”
“Wrong to want to help you? Wrong of me to want to stay with someone I once cared for very much? You have a strange definition of right and wrong, Harry. But then, you always did.”
“I think he does.” Astoria cocked her head so that her golden hair showered over Draco’s shoulder and encircled his face with bright, feathery ringlets. Draco gave her another smile, and Harry wondered madly for a moment if part of the problem was that he wasn’t blond. “You would think he would notice when his lover tired of him and let him go then, instead of waiting until his hand was forced.”
“I would have thought Draco would talk to me,” Harry whispered, but his voice was weak.
Draco sighed, a fluttering sound that seemed to travel most of the way towards Harry and then fall short of touching him, the way his words had failed to touch Draco. “I was keeping silent out of kindness. Now the kinder thing to do is leave you, since you know.”
Harry reeled back as if he’d been punched in the chest, and almost fell out of the chair. “Draco—no! Please! Don’t leave me!”
“I’ve already left you in all the ways that matter. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.” Draco held out a hand, and Astoria stood back and helped him out of the chair. “I’ll send around for my possessions in a few days. I do trust you not to damage them on purpose, Harry. Don’t touch them. Malfoy house-elves can box them.”
He looked at Astoria and then leaned forwards and pressed exactly the sort of light kiss to her lips that Harry had dreamed about receiving from Draco and never had. “Are you ready to open up our future, my love?” he asked. “This is the last of my past.”
Astoria gave Harry a quick glance with no emotion behind it, then matched Draco’s beaming smile. “I am.”
And they walked out of the door.
Harry sat at the table for a long time. After a while, he became aware that he had eaten all of Draco’s chocolates.
Before he went to bed that night, he did write one final, desperate letter. He tried to pretend it wasn’t the final one, because he wanted to see Draco walk through the door again, but by then, reality and dread were both weighing down his stomach.
Draco, I’m sure I’m in love with you. I never felt this devastated over anyone else leaving me. Please come back. Be in love with me again. Leave someone that you might just be infatuated with, for all you know! Please, come back to me.
The return owl came very early the next morning, and had the terrible gentleness that had been in Draco’s voice when he was explaining.
Harry, you aren’t in love with me. The reason I know that is that is you didn’t know enough about me to notice I was in love with someone else. And you didn’t know enough to realize I was unhappy. And you don’t want to let me go now. If you were in love with me, you would desire my happiness above all else. My happiness lies with Astoria. Let me go. You’re not in love. I don’t think you’re capable of it.
Harry let the letter fall from his hands, and his head fall back on the pillows. He closed his eyes. His body was drifting in some vast, numb stillness.
Eventually, someone knocked on the door. It was Ron, and Harry was able to let him in and talk about the things Draco had said and listen to Ron ranting about how wrong Draco was and of course Harry could love.
But Draco’s words were settling deeper and deeper, and Harry found himself thinking about so many events from the last three years when Draco had seemed less interested than normal. He wondered if Draco had been thinking about Astoria. He wondered if Draco had been looking forward to finding someone who would love him for himself.
The words sank deeper still, and in the end, Harry accepted all they said. Draco was gone. Harry should have been more sensitive to him and seen earlier that he wasn’t interested in Harry anymore.
And he couldn’t love.
That was the hardest thing to come to terms with, but he had to. Everything else Draco had said had been true. Why wouldn’t this one be?